Blissfield students to be honored for preserving battle flag
BLISSFIELD, Mich. -
A Blissfield High School senior has followed her father’s passion for the Civil War and will be honored today along with three of her friends for their efforts in preserving a battle flag from that era.
Emily Miller, 18, Grace Rewand, 17, Nicholas Martinez, 18, and Aaron Butts, 17, will receive recognition from State Rep. Dudley Spade, D-Tipton, Sen. Cameron S. Brown, R-Fawn River Twp., and other state officials for the work they have done in helping to preserve battle flags of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.
“Emily’s got displays that she takes to festivals and such,” said Butch Miller of Blissfield, a member of several Civil War groups. “They all worked to raise money to pay for the restoration of the flag.”
The four collected donations from people at festivals, spoke to civic and other groups asking for donations, or sold items such as suckers. In her case, Emily Miller sometimes sold Civil War bullets she has collected.
A Maryland woman, Vonda Thompson, has developed a process of restoring and preserving deteriorating flags that does not involve stitching, Miller said. The banner, or its remnants, are laid flat and sprayed with a sealant before being shipped to its origin.
He said the process costs about $1,000 per banner. The students got interested in the preservation effort after learning about the condition of battle flags in the state museum in Lansing.
“About 160 flags were in the main rotunda of the Capitol in glass cases. Some had been in battle and some were in use at the end of the war,” Miller said. “But when people got a close look at them, they saw they were deteriorating badly around the edges, so they were removed and put in a climate-controlled and temperature-controlled room.”
Miller said many of the banners were in different stages of deterioration. A banner from the 1st Michigan was in especially bad condition, as it had been taken into battle, Miller explained, because the engineers and mechanics did more than just build bridges.
“They were in pretty bad shape,” he said.
The students have raised the needed funds to preserve the flag. Once the preservation is completed, the flag will be shipped back to the museum for display.
The students will be honored at 2 p.m. today at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church on North Blissfield Highway. Butts is a junior at Blissfield High School and the other three are seniors.